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Volvo V90 D4 Inscription

Click to view picture gallery“Heads up: estate cars are trending;
 
in particular, Volvos latest V90.
  If you
re still thinking estate equals
  utilitarian
then you need to start
  thinking outside the box
precisely
  what Volvo did when it designed
  its spanking-new estate...”


LIKE ITS SISTER SALOON the S90, all the current V90 estates are diesel-powered — using Volvo's 'Drive-E' twin-turboed, four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engines (in either 187bhp D4 guise or 231bhp D5 PowerPulse) mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. And for fans of either petrol or electric, a T8 petrol/electric plug-in hybrid will shortly be joining the V90 line-up.

Looks-wise this new head-turning breed of Volvo estate is a million miles from its 'squared-off' predecessors. One-word soundbites as to its looks have to include 'rakish', 'classy' and 'premium' seen from the front it's imposing with a wide, purposeful grille; from the tail it's more sporty fastback, stylishly capped by an almost coupe-esque glasshouse, accentuated by muscular rear shoulders and high-set vertical tail lights. Whichever end you're seeing it from, the V90 has real presence proof, should you need it, comes on the move when it projects an air of imperiousness that even drivers of large SUVs acknowledge.

City Safety is standard-
fit and now even better
thanks to proactive
pedestrian, cyclist and
large animal detection.
While the system will
detect a drunken moose
in the dark, in the UK it’s
deer that are potential
hazards — and these too
it can spot...”
Deciding on a trim level is straightforward the estate is available in the same three specifications as the S90 saloon: Momentum, Inscription and R-Design, at prices starting from a competitive £35K and topping out at £44,455.

It goes without question that these new- generation Volvos are as safe a set of wheels as you can buy in fact Volvo is the first carmaker to score six Euro NCAP stars for pedestrian protection. Plus it achieved overall five-star ratings for both the S90 and V90, whose results surpass the best score of any model tested and make Euro NCAP's top-three best-ever-performing cars all Volvos.

All V90 versions also come with Volvo's new semi-autonomous drive technology: Pilot Assist. This takes care of the accelerator, braking and steering (though you still need to stay 'hands-on' at the helm in case you need to intervene) to keep the car safely within its driving lane at set speeds of up to 80mph although many will be willing to let Pilot Assist get them through stop-go traffic on rush-hour dual carriageways.

Even more pertinent is City Safety, also standard-fit and now even better thanks to proactive pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection. While the system will detect a drunken moose in the dark, in the UK it's deer that are potential hazards and these too it can spot. Fitted too is Front Collision Warning with fully automatic emergency braking, including at junctions, that adds further reassurance on our ever-crowded and distraction-filled roads.

Adaptive Cruise Control is there to makes long trips a breeze, while Run-Off Road Protection is on hand should the car inadvertently leave the blacktop in that situation RORP automatically tightens the front seatbelts and, should the worst happen, the front seat frames have a collapsible section to reduce vertical forces and help prevent spinal injuries in the event of a crash.

On the other side of the windscreen is a contemporary premium cabin defined by elegant Swedish flair, with multi-power-adjustable and tremendously supportive heated (three-stage) chairs upholstered in soft Nappa leather. Blond 'Scandinavian' hues combined with clean and unfussy design and acres of space create an interior that recharges your energy every time you sit in it.

Switchgear and controls
have been minimised
with just about
everything managed via
the modish nine-inch
tablet-style infotainment
touchscreen which
helpfully responds to
your voice as well as
your fingertip...”
Switchgear and controls have been minimised with just about everything (including your smartphone, music and even the dual-zone climate) managed via the modish nine-inch tablet-style infotainment touchscreen which helpfully responds to your voice as well as your fingertip.

If you don't consider yourself computer savvy, don't worry even if you've never used a similar system before you'll be totally au fait with it after your first journey. The Sensus navigation system comes with full European mapping (post-Brexit, British drivers will undoubtedly continue to holiday in Europe) with traffic information plus lifetime map updates.

In addition to Sensus Connect that lets you access a range of web apps and browse the Internet, you also get Connected Service Booking which enables the car to pre-book itself for a convenient service appointment at your chosen Volvo dealership. And, just introduced, Android Auto now joins the V90's existing Apple CarPlay mobile integration so Android users can access their smartphone's functions directly from the infotainment system.

Complementing the central touchscreen is an eight-inch active TFT crystal driver's information display set directly ahead of the driver there's a choice of themes that includes showing secondary navigation mapping between the digitised speedo and rev-counter.

There's also a hard-to-miss digital road speed readout (with roadside speed limit signs helpfully displayed immediately below). It works splendidly combined with the multifunction steering wheel and comprehensive voice control of the infotainment system, your hands barely need to leave the heated two-tone wheel rim nor your eyes the road. Exactly how easy today's high-tech should be.

The V90 has a wealth of nice touches: a parking brake that applies automatically when the engine is switched off, the über-convenient keyless entry (all five doors) and start system, the posted road sign recognition with signs displayed on the screens and in the head-up projection on the windscreen, door mirrors that powerfold automatically when you leave the car, stylish aircraft-style chromed air vents, a large damped glovebox, and definitely must-have cap-less refuelling so your fingers are safe from smelly old diesel when topping up the tank; plus a rear wiper that really does clear virtually the entire rear screen both side-to-side and top-to-bottom.

Our week’s hard testing
didn’t see us nailing the
official Combined Cycle
fuel economy of 62.8mpg
but in real-life few new
cars ever do — even so,
we came close enough to
inspire normal owners
with our impressive
average of 47.8mpg...”
It's not just the feel-good ambiance that makes the V90 a winner but the palpable refinement on the move. Four adults will find its blend of comfort, style and first class quality very persuasive and easily able to entice customers away from the German camp.

For those travelling in the rear cabin, even six-footers, there are no compromises if they're feeling generous they can invite a third to sit between them, although with the nicely padded, wide central armrest (with built-in tray and pop-out cupholders) in play and serious lounging space either side (as well as a fist of headroom), the old saying about three's a crowd will no doubt be on the lips of the 'chosen two'.

While it's acknowledged that power tends to feed the desire for even more power (politically, at least), in the V90 it's easy to be perfectly happy with the ample sufficiency served up by the front-wheel drive D4's 187bhp (if you do succumb to the desire for more, well there's always the four-wheel-drive-only D5 with 231bhp).

That noted, the D4 is quicker than you might expect and its hefty 295lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm has more than enough muscle to punch you off the line pretty effortlessly, and works fluently with the smooth-shifting, eight-speed automatic gearbox. Maxed out it will show you 140mph; and it gets off the line to pass the benchmark 62mph in a keen 8.5 seconds.

These Drive-E turbodiesels have come in for a lot of praise for their drivability as well as their economy. Admittedly our week's hard testing didn't see us nailing the official Combined Cycle fuel economy of 62.8mpg but in real-life few new cars ever do even so, we came close enough to inspire normal owners with our impressive (and unexpected) average of 47.8mpg. After all, this is a substantial, strongly-built car that's stuffed with kit and has an automatic transmission.

This V90 is a big estate but underneath the bodywork there's a well-controlled chassis that keeps it level through the twisties. The helm is quick and direct, albeit slightly light, but the important thing is that there's enough grip to ensure that the V90 goes where you point it.

This V90 is a substantial
estate but underneath
the metalwork there’s a
well-controlled chassis
that keeps it flat and level
through the twisties.
The helm is direct albeit
slightly light but the
important thing is that
there’s enough grip to
ensure that the V90 goes
where you point it...”
On bumpy blacktop the suspension does a good job of ironing out the jolts to deliver a pretty cushioned ride that, supplemented by the nicely padded seating, works just fine to provide premier league comfort. Needless to say that motorway miles are devoured effortlessly as it cruises serenely (and economically) along, the refined turbodiesel agreeably hushed.

The brakes are strong and the V90 stops without any drama whatever you speed when you press the pedal. And, like the competition, the V90 offers a choice of driving modes the default Comfort serves up just that. Your other choices are Economy and the sporty Dynamic than makes the V90 feel invigoratingly 'on the prod'.

What lies behind is, ostensibly, why buyers choose an estate over not just a hatchback or saloon but also, and increasingly, over a SUV. While the V90 is not quite the biggest estate on the block, its clean-sided 560-litre boot should satisfy most.

Of course, much more space is readily available by dropping the 60:40-split rear seats. A nice touch is the standard-fit power-folding rear-seat backrests and headrests just press the appropriate button and the resulting 1,526-litre loadbay should do the trick.

The cargo bay floor is long, seamless and totally flat and, better still, the loading sill is both low and lip-free. A flip-up side-to-side cargo divider (also fitted with a handy elasticated retaining strap and bag-holder hooks) means short or multiple loads can easily be accommodated. The luggage blind retracts automatically as the tailgate rises, plus there's useful 'overspill' storage beneath the floor. And you need never touch the tailgate because it comes with fast-acting powered opening and closing operated by the switch on the dash and the smart key fob as well as on the tailgate itself.

And while it looks damn good, the tapering 'lifestyle estate' roofline and rakish tailgate doesn't actually, in the final analysis, rob you of much cargo space. Another good feature are the eye-catching vertical taillights that link the bumper to the roof so no worries about staying safe if you need to load up at night. And don't forget that what won't go inside can always go outside: the V90 D4 will haul a braked 1,800kg and take another 100kg on the roof.

If your current estate car wears a BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz badge on its nose, then your choices have just widened the distinctive V90 is a refined, comfortable and safe set of wheels that's also commendably wallet-friendly at the pumps; one that offers a refreshing alternative to the ruling German triumvirate. ~ MotorBar
.
Volvo V90 D4 Inscription | £37,555
Maximum speed: 140mph | 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds | Test Average: 47.8mpg
Power: 187bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | CO2: 119g/km

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